Iowa spreads out scoring load, dumps Minnesota for third Big Ten victory

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Three times this season, Iowa has had at least five players score 10 or more points in a Big Ten Conference game.

The Hawkeyes have won all three of those games, and they played a near-perfect second half of offense Tuesday to hold off Minnesota 94-80 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa (12-12, 3-8 Big Ten) may have only three league victories this season, but the formula has been the same: Spread out the scoring load, and tighten up the rotation in the second half to include only those players who are contributing.

On Tuesday, it was Jordan Bohannon leading the way with 20 points. Tyler Cook added 17, followed by Isaiah Moss (16), Nicholas Baer (10), Luka Garza (10) and Cordell Pemsl (10).

The Hawkeyes shot 60.6 percent from the field in the second half, with 14 assists and only three turnovers. They scored 57 points, the most ever in a Big Ten game in Fran McCaffery's eight years as coach.

"I think that it makes it easier to play defense when things are going well on offense. And that's part of our problem in the games we've lost is, if we're not hitting shots, it kind of takes a little off of you mentally and it ends up doing the same on the other end," Pemsl said. "But I think when we have the ball moving like that, everybody just is excited to play, excited for each other, and that makes you want to play defense even more."

The Hawkeyes had 22 assists on 33 field goals.

McCaffery, who earned his 400th career victory, played only eight of his 10 available scholarship players in the second half. All of them scored at least five points.

The result was a clear example of the value of teamwork. Iowa shot 12-for-25 from the 3-point arc and outscored Minnesota 38-32 in the paint.

The 12 3-pointers —  by five different players — accounted the most by the Hawkeyes in a Big Ten game this season and second-highest overall (13 vs. Southern).

"I thought we ran, we executed some set plays, we executed our motion, we moved it, and I thought our shot selection was pretty good," McCaffery said. "We got hung up at the end of the shot clock a few times, but when we did miss a couple and they made it and cut it to four, we went back and got a few. That's what you've got to do. If you're missing shots in the stretch and they're going to make a run, you have to go back and get it and extend the lead. That's what we did."

Iowa led by at least eight points for the final 5 minutes, 31 seconds after Bohannon fed Pemsl for a layup.

Bohannon added 10 assists and Cook had 10 rebounds as each player recorded a double-double.

Cook got his final rebound on Minnesota's last miss, with 3 seconds left. He smiled when asked whether he knew he was one away from a double-double.

"I did. I'll admit that one, so I had to make sure I got that," Cook said.

Cook had a terrific duel with Gophers star Jordan Murphy, a 6-foot-6 junior who is a terror on the glass. Murphy had 21 points and 17 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season.

"He's an animal on both ends, on the boards. I was excited to go against him. Two competitors going at it," Cook said after helping his team come away with the win.

Iowa's Luka Garza puts up a shot  against Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday.

The Hawkeyes bolted to an 11-1 lead just more than 3 minutes into the game, getting five points from Cook and 3-pointers from starting wing players Moss and Baer.

But nothing has come easy for Iowa this season, and the Gophers (14-10, 3-8) quickly got back into the game, getting nine points and 10 rebounds from Murphy to close within 37-33 at halftime.

It was only the second conference game in which Iowa held a lead at intermission.

The second half started with a Moss 3-pointer and Iowa built a 13-point lead that it never let fall below four.

Freshman Jack Nunge came off the bench to have his best game of the month, with a pair of 3-pointers and a pair of blocked shots. 

Maishe Dailey had five points.

That core eight provided more than enough to handle a depleted Minnesota team that had only eight scholarship players available.

"I think it was just the fact that everybody was ready to play coming into the game. Guys came in, were prepared to make shots, were aggressive," Cook said.

The Hawkeyes have won two of their past three games, with a Saturday trip to Penn State up next.